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"The French" by Simon Rogan, Manchester

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13 replies to this topic

#1 sped98

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 06:26 AM

Mr Rogan makes the move into Manchesters Midland hotel and Tuesday 12th March will see the doors opening to a very exciting start to the fine dining scene and fingers crossed the Michelin stars back into the city again. I was fortunate enough to be invited down to a preview of what the new look The French restaurant is going to be producing over the next few weeks. I believe there will be 2 multi course tasting menus in true Rogan style , a small and a large ( itll be something like a 5 and a 10 course choice i would expect.). Here`s a wee sneak preview of what delights await....The future looks promising for Manchester.

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CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie

#2 adey73

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 10:15 AM

Rogan's Empire gets bigger every year, didn't he buy his local boozer recently?

I've only seen one published recipe of his (in Nigel Howarth's Obsession).

Has he any plans to put pen to paper like his pal Sat?

Edited by adey73, 09 March 2013 - 10:17 AM.

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

#3 thom

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 01:07 PM

I went, I ate, it was bloody spectacular. The front of house is a slightly uneasy melding of new (Rogan staff) and old (The French stalwarts) but that will resolve over time, and the fit out is bold, playful and confident - the old guard will bemoan the Scandi-chic snd un-naped tables (let alone the polarising faux wooden carpet) but personally I loved the clean modern feel and the way it offset the now restrained opulence of the room. Belting chandeliers too.

The food? Not flawless (some bread has caught, and I found a recurring smidge of over-seasoning here and there, and maybe a single dish unbalanced) but brilliant, and eating at a level very close to L'Enclume which is staggering when you consider the brigade is newly thrown together and the ovens only got installed that day. I won't describe in detail, you all know what Rogan is about, but the ox ribeye tartare with charcoal oil, smoked sunflower seeds, kohlrabi balls and sunflower shoots was utterly breathtaking.

Simon has absolute confidence in his team (Dan Cox et al) and says The French will improve rather than dip as it beds in. That is a significantly different dynamic to many Manchester restaurants. With Aiden Byrne still to open, along with discussions with one other Michelin star chef and a rumoured American big name, Manchester may finally have the fine-dining cherry(ies?) on the top of the seriously impressive breadth, depth and variety of it's dining scene. The French, if it sustains, is nailed on Michelin star standard.

Be cynical about empire-building and ill-judged and unloved diffusion restaurants all you want, but from what I know of Simon that Is simply not his style. If he wanted a launch pad to global expansion and big money deals for four day a year consultancies in Dubai or Vegas he'd be putting his heart and soul into London. It's the high visibility gateway to the world dontcha know? He's not, because he genuinely loves Manchester as a city and it is easier for him to manage from Cartmel (a quick whizz away up the M6).

Sure restaurants in the North have 'grown' big and acquired reputations and gravitas over time, but I can't think of a restaurant that has 'launched' this big in term of potential, ambition, anticipation and significance to a region's eating and drinking scene. Certainly not North of Birmingham in my dining lifetime. It's a game changer people, you need to come and try it. And feel free to hate the furniture and/or the carpets. But not the chandelier. The chandelier is magical.

Cheers

Thom

Edited by thom, 09 March 2013 - 01:10 PM.

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#4 Gary Marshall

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 02:09 AM

I'm sure time will soon tell if those chairs are comfortable enough for Bapi's usual 4 hour chassange montrachet-athon, aka lunch.

Agreed re the chandeliers, and look forward to a trip.
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#5 Harters

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 04:02 AM

Ithe old guard will bemoan the Scandi-chic snd un-naped tables (let alone the polarising faux wooden carpet)


 

That'll be me, then, Thom, bemoaning. I think the room looks bloody awful, from the photo you post. How to ruin a spectacular space in one easy trip to IKEA.

 

No doubt, I'll go an eat there at some point (I do enjoy the food at L'Enclume) but I've absolutely no enthusiasm for it. Whereas, in the past, it's always been a treat to go and eat at the French. A place we'd go for the celebrations in life.

 

I assume that, with Thom and Sped getting in there for a preview, there's some heavy marketing going on. Perhaps significant that this doesnt seem to have reached as far as existing customers who are on their mailing list - I have received nothing from them about the opening whatsoever. But, then, as Thom indicates, folk like me (wrinklies who made up the bulk of the French's customer base) don't seem to be who they want through their doors.


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#6 sped98

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 07:20 AM

Adey73 - Yes , was the back end of last year Simon took over Cartmels Pig n whistle pub. Not managed to get there yet and ive still to eat at Rogan n Co, also in the village, I`m sure theyre both wonderful.
No sign or mention of a book yet , i`m sure the idea will have been banded around in Simons head...hopefully sooner than later.There are quite a few recipes of Simons online if you have a little look around.
Itll be interesting to see the next stage of Simons move to the Midland , there`s the Brasserie and another restaurant to be addressed i believe.
As for the food at the French , yep , very typical of Lenclume / Roganic so will probably be on constant change as foods come into season.Spring and summer are always exciting times on the menus. Im hoping that we see a few "signature" dishes appearing and staying on the menu at the French , Razor Role reversal made an appearance in the trial menus this week. Expearamenthol Frappe and my all time fave "Cubes from Land and Sea" definitely need to reappear....Oh and the Carrots with Ham fat simply have to go back on again...but there again its so pretty no one wants to eat it.
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#7 thom

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 08:16 AM

Harters, don't despair, the vast majority of diners when I was there were regular customers to the French (and many of them, yes, had wrinkles). In fact they seem to have once again pursued a convention-busting approach with no hugely retainered PR team, and no all-singing all dancing launch party festooned with the stars of sport and screen. Softly soft-launching seems the order of the day.

I had no problem with what the French represented previously (I am a sucker for the classic chops and formal charm of Le Gavroche) but sadly it was not executed in any way well enough. My last visit earlier this year was badly disappointing, and the audience of good folk like yourself who enjoyed the status quo were a dwindling band whose special occasion visits could not sustain it as a business.

So yes I like it's freshness and I like it's confidence, and as with architecture I find a bold contemporary response is usually more pleasing than a hand-wringing attempt at well-intended pastiche, except to the Prince Charles of the world. It feels like the product of a singular vision, and I like the tables, handmade from trees felled in Cheshire (though personally I do like a good bit of linen).

The food was excellent, and may yet bed in to be truly brilliant, and the environment it offers still feels very special to me, and a whole bedpost of notches up on anything else in the city centre. It may become the restaurant of choice for the anniversaries, proposals and graduations of a whole new generation of Mancunians, but hopefully thid time it will be a Mecca for food-nerds too.

I think you might hate the carpets though. Like Uncle Buck's hat they will anger a lot of people.

And Gary, as for Bapi's lunch, we'll just have to put that to the test!

Cheers

Thom
It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#8 thom

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:39 AM

It may become the restaurant of choice for the anniversaries, proposals and graduations of a whole new generation of Mancunians, but hopefully this time it will be a Mecca for food-nerds too.


I believed Simon Rogan, with hopefully another few top chefs leading the charge, would pique the interest and provide a story for the national press to take notice of our fair city's gastronomic blossoming. And so it begins. Manchester has been listed as one of Observer Food Monthly's Top 50 foodie highlights from around the UK and indeed the globe.

http://www.guardian.....od-interactive

One swallow etc etc but a nice bit of recognition and media traction. A bit of momentum never hurt anyone and nor, in terms of economic impact, did gastrotourism (a horrible phrase but a genuine and growing leisure sector now).

Cheers

Thom
It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#9 alex chef

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 04:08 AM

The last time I ate here it was the short lived Nico Ladenis restaurant, a very memorable meal, even with the hang over from eating at holbeck ghyll the night before!! I'm very much looking forward to eating here again, about time Manchester had a really good high end place to eat!

#10 thom

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 05:24 AM

The last time I ate here it was the short lived Nico Ladenis restaurant, a very memorable meal, even with the hang over from eating at holbeck ghyll the night before!! I'm very much looking forward to eating here again, about time Manchester had a really good high end place to eat!

 

Ah yes, I remember the Nico days, but I think he was in a different room, The French has always been The French. It will be interesting to see how Simon beds in, I was in there yesterday for lunch (£29 for three courses, three 'bells and whistles' and an excellent bread basket) and it was fantastic, though it should be with Simon putting in 17 hour days!

 

It was about a third full but apparently just about every dinner slot, weekday and weekend, is booked solid for the next few weeks, and some lunches (particularly the weekends) have been stacked too. I know it's early days, but it is also unprecedented for any high-end restaurant to launch in Manchester with that sort of traffic, particularly in a hotel.

 

Giles Coren was in on Wednesday and tweeted indiscreetly (indistweeted?) that it was "magnificent". We shall see if that follows through into a nice Times review in a few weeks time. It would be a first for Giles in Manchester (witness the excruciating Metro-centric bile in his Aumbry review) though he did get in a dig about The French being worth the "eight hour round trip".

 

Cheers

 

Thom


Edited by thom, 21 March 2013 - 05:28 AM.

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#11 thom

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:58 AM

Giles' review is out. In short, a sterling 8/10: "But, hell, it’s a wonderful restaurant. One of the best around."

Cheers

Thom
It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#12 thom

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 06:08 AM

Another weekend, another review in the nationals. This time the Independent on Sunday, with a spanking 9.5/10 rating. They love the room, the ox ribeye tartare (one of their all time top ten dishes so they say) and they even like the contentious carpet.

Have any other foruministas eaten there yet?

Cheers

Thom
It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

#13 PhilD

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 03:50 PM

I see Hayler makes a comment that the lease is soon to expire on Roganic in London. It will be interesting to see if this The French becomes his official #2 spot.

#14 thom

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 04:42 AM

I see Hayler makes a comment that the lease is soon to expire on Roganic in London. It will be interesting to see if this The French becomes his official #2 spot.

 

As far as I know Roganic is definitely shutting so The French (and adjacent soon-to-launch brasserie "Mr Coopers") are his defacto solves ventures outside his Cartmel home turf. Big Hospitality reported on this a week or so ago: http://www.bighospit...t-in-Manchester

 

Good grief, the North hanging on to it's own talent?! Whatever next... Very, very exciting times!

 

Cheers

 

Thom


It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".





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